Just some random musings as I work through my own continued preparation as a level 3 catechist.
Recently, there was an announcement of continued openings at the level 3 formation leaders course offered by the National Association. I had previously not considered it, because I am not quite ready to be a level 3 formation leader - I had hoped they would offer the level 2 version of this course this year as they did level 1 last year, but they are alternating the alternate years I think is the plan?
The announcement got me thinking and praying. One session of that course would be in on special needs in the level 3 atrium and another on applying to the level 3 atrium Montessori principles from the academic Montessori environment. I have AMI Montessori training and would *love* to collaborate on the Montessori principles at the elementary level - which practices to bring in, which am I perhaps going over-board on. It would be so great to collaborate with others.
And I do have a group of children I have not yet ever had to address in an upper level atrium; thus a collaboration with others with Montessori background and/or CGS formation at all levels would be ideal.
I did inquire if I could attend based on not intending to be a level 3 formation leader in the near future (by the time the next one is offered I will likely be looking to do level 3 already, so the current timing is actually quite ideal). I was not told, "No," but I was given a list of reasons not to attend; the following morning I received a message asking me for my contributions to the above two topics.
It is not that I don't want to contribute... It is that I want to *collaborate.* I love working with level 3 children, I love applying my Montessori background to fully enrich the atrium - but in many ways I am working in a void - and I am sensing there is some missing point of balance. I sense that the point of balance missing is another adult in my local area with whom to collaborate. Perhaps I have been spoiled in recent years though:
- I was alone when I started level 1, but my formation was such that it was fully balanced and I had the support I needed for the first 2 years.
- After that I have only been in atriums with pretty much full support from the priest, other catechists, parents and other parishioners.
- When I started the local level 2 atriums, there was already a catechist who, when I met her upon my move to this area (and she was in the level 1 formation already) said, "I am here to learn this so that I can take it back to my sacramental preparation children." Thus, there was already a catechist for that level, ready, willing and intending! Along with another catechist who intended to see it all the way through, we were able to set up a partial level 2 in our first year of having level 1.
- From there, mostly without my involvement, the local program took a small step back, then moved forward again. I spent those years inviting homeschool families to my home for very small atrium sessions.
- Finally, the local program was ready for level 3 - and they paid for half of my level 3 formation. I am the only level 3 catechist in the local area. This is not to puff myself up - I am lonely.
- Last year, I worked with a partially trained catechist in our newly established level 3. I was able to discuss things with her - modifications of the work expectations, the materials, how to create the materials. I knew I appreciated her presence and her assistance and sometimes her guidance - and now I miss her dearly.
- I love the other adults I have in there now: a mom who was in level 3 with me last year, but has no official CGS formation - she is a middle school teacher so her interactions with the children are great; another mom who has level 1 formation and has been in all three levels as a catechist or assistant - she has so much exuberance for the atrium that the children feed off that positivity; another mom on occasion who is just great for stepping in and exploring the work with the children - she is great at keeping them on track - no official formation, but has been in all 3 levels at one time or another; a dad who was in a mix of all levels last year with his children - this year is with me for 1 level 3 atrium and 1 multi-level atrium - there is a bit more collaboration there ---- but all of them take my word on almost everything and question very little, if anything at all. I appreciate their confidence in me! Really! I need collaboration too.
- The CRE is wonderful but only has formation through level 2. I can collaborate a bit with her but there are limitations.
So why am I so lonely? Because it's not about me - it's about the relationship of the Child with the Holy Spirit.
I just need someone to off-set my strong ideals! Or maybe make them better. Fine-tune them. Or throw some of them out altogether.
Yes, I work in another atrium setting which is shared with other catechists trained all the way through - but I work after-school when the other adults are not there. Also, it is a Montessori school so the dynamics in a 120-150 minute atrium session with Montessori school children already at school are very different from public school children coming for a 90 minute atrium once a week. Even at level 1 within a Montessori-school-atrium, the practical life area can be stripped down, the atrium does not need to include walking on the line. At level 2, God with No Hands is done in the classroom; the timeline work will correlate with their work in the classroom. The children come in prepared and they have a longer session. It is wonderful - I receive such inspiration for all my atrium spaces by moving between them all throughout the week. But it doesn't cover the need for a local level 3 person for collaboration in our particular level 3 (public school children) atrium.
Would the formation leaders course have fully assisted me? No. But it would have provided some of the needed balance, some collaboration on the special needs concerns, and definitely helped me pinpoint the balance of academic Montessori and level 3 CGS.
So those of you reading this, please pray for me - that God will provide. That it will work out according to His plan, not mine.
(the course is going on right now as this post is scheduled to go up - and 2 particular struggles just came to a sharp point - please pray for me!)